Suriname Defense Minister, Ambassador visit South Dakota, 114th Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Michael V. Frye
  • 114th Fighter Wing
The 114th Fighter wing hosted the Suriname Minister of Defense and U.S. Ambassador here Feb. 25 as part of the Growth through Partnership program.
Suriname Defense Minister Ivan Fernard and U.S. Ambassador to Suriname Lisa Bobbie Schreiber Hughes were in South Dakota to meet with key leaders focusing on an exchange between government, community and military leaders.

"With South Dakota and Suriname being so similar, we're both small, but if you look at us as the standard, the test, this partnership is a great pilot for the program," said Ambassador Schreiber Hughes.

The 114th FW hosted the duo with a tour of the base operations building and command post, a windshield tour of the base, demonstrations by 114th Security Forces personnel, and an up-close viewing of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The government of Suriname has recently purchased helicopters for their Air Force. Success will be based on an effective training program and detailed, preventative maintenance.

"The meeting at Joe Foss Field centered on effective training and preventative maintenance," said Col. Russ Walz, 114th Fighter Wing commander. "It does not matter if it's a M-16 rifle or the F-16 fighter aircraft, our Airmen's ability to tear down, inspect, repair, reassemble and return to service is based on an effective training program and focuses on mission accomplishment. Just as I am everyday, our Suriname guests were truly impressed."

"It was great to see our friends from Suriname and I'm looking forward to future partnership opportunities," Col. Walz added.

The South Dakota-Suriname State Partnership program was formally established in August, 2006 to develop mutually beneficial partnerships beetween the two entities. The partners were selected based upon similarities in population size, land mass, agricultural-based economies, and lack of significant language barriers.